THREE people - including a Special Constable - were injured as Uttoxeter’s pubs and bars reopened. The constable suffered ‘severe facial injuries’ in an incident in Market Place and two people were treated by ambulance crews after a brawl in Carter Street.
Staffordshire Police’s Chief Constable slammed the ‘despicable’ assault on the officer. Both incidents happened within an hour of each other on Saturday night as pubs and bars were allowed to open after weeks of lockdown.
The Special Constable – who has full policing powers, but works on a voluntary basis and is not paid – was assaulted at around 8pm. He was taken to hospital by a crew from West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS), where he was treated for a fractured cheekbone and discharged the following day.
An 18-year-old man from Burton-upon-Trent was arrested on suspicion of wounding with intent and a 17-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of affray. Both have been released on bail. Detectives are now appealing for anyone who witnessed the incident, filmed it or who has information, to come forward.
Just half an hour later, police officers were called to a report of a fight at the White Hart Hotel in Carter Street. Around 10 people were reported to have been involved and a woman suffered a facial injury. A spokesman for WMAS said: “We were called at 8.46pm on July 4 to reports of an assault in Carter Street, Uttoxeter. “One ambulance attended the scene. Upon arrival, staff found two patients, a man and woman. Both were treated for injuries not believed to be serious before being taken to hospital for further treatment.”
A 20-year-old man from Uttoxeter was arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm with intent and bailed pending further enquiries. Anyone with information or anyone who may have seen anything is asked to message Staffordshire Police on Facebook or Twitter or call 101 quoting incident number 847 of 4 July.
Last week, the force issued advice and a four-step guide to people planning to visit their local pubs as they prepared to reopen on Saturday. Police, like the rest of the emergency services across the country, anticipated a rise in demand as normality resumes and prepared for an increase in calls with patrol strategies and a dedicated policing operation in place.
Despite the majority of people adhering to guidelines however, demand on the service was high and was comparable to that of New Year’s Eve. The Chief Constable praised the majority of people who visited pubs across the county safely and responsibly, but said calls to the police on Saturday were almost double that of the average Saturday in July 2019, rising from 228 to 449. Staffordshire Police received 449 999 calls between the hours of 7pm and 4am – just fewer than those recorded on New Year’s Eve (488).
Most calls related to drink-related disorders and anti-social behaviour. Chief Constable Gareth Morgan said: “We understand that a lot of people were eager to get out as restrictions lifted and I’d like to thank the majority of people who did so responsibly, adhering to government guidelines and to the procedures local bars and restaurants had in place. As expected, calls for service increased substantially and we received a number of reports of violence, anti-social and drunk and disorderly behaviour. Colleagues and partners worked hard to ensure all eventualities were planned for and I am grateful for the ongoing and collaborative effort to keep people safe.
“My thoughts and well wishes are with the Special Constable who was injured while fulfilling his duties serving his local community. Any attack against a police officer is absolutely despicable and I know it will be condemned by the public. I am clear when I say this behaviour will not be tolerated – officers do not deserve to be treated in this way. We continue to have robust plans in place as we all get used to a new normal with more premises opening and we would urge people to continue to be sensible during what is still an unprecedented time. The crisis isn’t yet over – Coronavirus remains a serious risk and people need to continue to be sensible and follow Government guides which include social distancing and increased hygiene measures.”
Extra neighbourhood patrols will continue to be in place around licensed premises and Staffordshire Police will continue to work closely with partners and the night-time economy to ensure the county’s towns and cities are kept safe.
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